Keith Olbermann, MSNBC part ways
January 21st, 2011
10:49 PM ET

Keith Olbermann, MSNBC part ways

Keith Olbermann is leaving MSNBC, the "Countdown" host announced on his show Friday night.

The liberal commentator told viewers he had been informed "this was going to be the last edition" of his show, but offered no further details.

NBC Universal confirmed the news in a statement Friday night.

"MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

Olbermann made the announcement in his typical deadpan style, evoking scenes from the film "Network" and thanking viewers for keeping him on the air for eight years.

"In the mundane world of television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative," Olbermann said before launching into a story about his exit from ESPN 13 years ago.

"As God as my witness, in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got into my earpiece and he said, 'um, can you cut it down to 15 seconds so we can get in this tennis result from Stuttgart,'" he said, half-smiling, pausing for composure.

"So I'm grateful I have a little more time to sign off here. Regardless this is the last edition of 'Countdown.'"

Olbermann began his career at NBC in 1997 as an anchor for NBC Sports. During that time he was also host of two MSNBC primetime news programs, “The Big Show,” and “White House In Crisis.”

He left the network amid a dust-up over his dissatisfaction with the network's coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He returned in 2003 as a substitute host on "Nachman" before launching "Countdown."

The prime-time host's departure comes two months after he was suspended for a couple of nights in November for violating the ethics policy of the cable network after Politico reported that he had donated to three Democrats seeking federal office.

The contributions violated an NBC policy that requires employees of the news organization to obtain permission ahead of any political donations or activities that could be deemed as a conflict of interest.

The announcement triggered immediate speculation over whether the coming takeover of NBC Universal by Comcast had anything to do with his departure. NBC has denied that the move had anything to do with the impending takeover, New York Times reporter Bill Carter told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Olbermann signed a four-year extension on his contract in 2008, Carter said, which will prevent him from appearing on television. He can still do radio and online appearances, he added.

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soundoff (1,424 Responses)
  1. Sarahbs

    I think it makes sense. As a liberal elitist and a scientist, married to a Dr, I don't know anyone who watches any of these channels. Liberals for the most part have better, healthier, more intelligent things to do. We don't get too worked up by politics, we hate to hate and we hate wars. We are less paranoid and vengeful. The day tlc and discovery went for teabaggers and Palin types, I knew how bad the state of media is. Obviously more of Right Wing nuts watch TV. And these people are murderously passionate. In this country Everything, I mean everything, even medicine is about money and profit. So I urge my liberal friends not to fret too much. Let the right wing own all the media. It's only better for us. We progress, educated, and have less chances of getting stressed out over political theatrical bs. Get a NetFlix acct, we love those movies, it's totally worth your brain.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat

      Woo-Hoo! Glad you know everyone and everything in the world – like what all liberals like and don't like and what they do with their lives. You have some kind of mental problem. News flash: Lots of us liberals watch MSNBC and loved Keith's show. Yes, you are an elitist if only in your sick mind.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy Kautter

      What a bunch of self-congratulatory, pretentious hooey. Your view of this country only serves to prove that liberal elitists such as yourself are close-minded, myopic and bigoted. I am so happy for you being married to a doctor, my oh my, and being so smart and educated. You must tell people every day how much you know! You may be that, but you are not wise. Oh yes, this moderate Republican Fox News watcher has a graduate degree, my husband has a law degree as well as a CPA, our children all have graduate degrees, and all have professional careers. But, hey, what do we ignorant rednecks know?

      January 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pandora

      Um.....Pat and Kathy? Ever consider the poster is in fact NOT a liberal but a poser? The post is full of the same broad catchwords used by conservatives when describing liberals. I know a whole lot of liberals and none of them think or feel anything like what that person posted. That person is spouting a stereotype invented by the right, just as the left has spouted a stereotype of the right, to keep us all nice and divided. Don't fall into the trap.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. thad

    Keith will be just fine.
    Msnbc will regret his leaving.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • slim32

      Easy now, don't blow a gasket. Keith overbite will probably end up here at CNN.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat

      CNN is not the tv station for liberals. They have been moving to the center for some time now and sometmes cross the line into right wing territory. MSNBC is the only liberal tv channel left. Hopefully, it will remain so.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. justin


    January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Linda

    We will miss you Keith, best wishes. One of your great accomplishments – Helping raise over $1 million for free health clinics.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Fred

    I think MSNBC would have done better to cancel "Regis and Kelly with a Bachelor's Degree", aka 'Morning Joe'. Keith and Chris both made this network and I am very sad that Keith was cancelled. One thing for the people shouting with nastiness and glee, I guess that truth and fact were hard to accept.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff In Cincinnati

    Good to get this hater off the air. I tune into his show every now and then for a good laugh....never seen someone spew so much hate in so little time.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pandora

      If that's the only place you have seen "hate," you are clearly blinded to where else it is spewed. Wake up.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dennis

    He's the opposite of Glenn Beck. Keith being sane and all.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat

      Good one!

      January 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Athena

    Facts have just left the bldg. But if this was Keith's decison I will respect it. We will miss you Keith, but
    let of know were you will go next, you have our support.


    January 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. :)

    Great! Now all they need to do replace more people from MSNBC and Fox and actually get people who will tell you both sides of the story instead of trying to brainwash people. Because they've done a pretty good job of that.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. teabag


    January 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Diane Wordsmith

    I am speechless. Keith was my favorite!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FRANK

    I enjoyed Keith's frankness and his concern for the less fortunate. I also appreciated his efforts to expose the untruths end exaggerations often told by the far right. My wife and I watched him almost every night. He will be missed!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. valwayne

    The most extreme hateful left wing network on the air fired the most extreme left wing hateful commentator on the air. You have to wonder what's up with that? Its hard to believe that even the hateful extreme rhetoric of Mr Olberman was too much for a place like MSNBC. They don't stop at much! It will be interesting to find out what really happened!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Louis W.Pontecorvo

    The continual abuse of the Democratic process and liberalism will have this country self-destruct.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pw

    We will miss you keith

    January 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
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